Call us “epicureans,” call us “foodies,” call us “gourmands.” Just don’t call us late for dinner! Hi, I’m Traci, the newest member of the EscapeMaker crew! My first blog post is, NOT coincidentally, about one of my favorite subjects: FOOD. There are many ways to explore new destinations when we travel, and many of us consider culinary “research” one of the best ways to get a “taste” of the destination (yes, pun intended). If you’re interested in embarking on your own culinary getaway, staying within the northeast region is a logical place to start, and full of opportunities. There are several ways to go about your planning. 1) Select a destination based on the heritage of the people who live there. In Boston there’s the North End with its Italian community, a Polish enclave is situated in Baltimore, MD, and a Korean community makes its home in Bergen County, NJ. A little research will yield the best local places for ethnic cuisine! 2) Take your inspiration from your favorite food, and make a pilgrimage to its birthplace. If you can’t imagine a world without buffalo chicken wings, visit the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, where they were invented in 1964. Head to Philly for cheesesteaks, where Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks vie for the title of “best.” Crab cakes? A toss-up between two Maryland contenders; the Narrows Restaurant in Grasonville and G & M Restaurant in Linthicum. 3) To truly immerse yourself in a culinary getaway, consider a weekend at an inn with cooking classes included in a package. This is your chance to relax, experience wonderful fine dining and learn to cook with a real chef. 4) Factory tours are especially fun for families. Vermont is a dairy destination, with Cabot Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s offering tours (and samples!). In Pennsylvania, it’s all about the snacks; from the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in historic Lititz, to Herr’s potato chip HQ in Nottingham, and of course, Hershey (the town that chocolate built)! The right timing will lead you to a culinary event or wine and food festival which celebrates the best local fare. This weekend, the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week kicks off with more than 125 restaurants. For two weeks, participating restaurants serve three-course prix-fixe lunches for $20 and/or three-course dinners for $28 (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). Many chefs feature products from surrounding farms and artisanal producers and offer wines, spirits and beverages produced in the Hudson Valley to complement your meal. Make a getaway out of it! While you’re there, tour the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) campus in Hyde Park. Here are several overnight packages at hotels and inns in the Hudson Valley available through the end of March. Bon Appétit!